Abstract: A Network Interface Controller(NIC, also known as a network interface card, network adapter, LAN adapter, and by similar terms) is a standard computer hardware component for the current servers. With the continuous growth in the number of PCIe links that the CPU can provide externally, the external output bandwidth required by the server is increasing accordingly.
Though the current mainstream network adapter market was dominated by NIC based on 10GbE and 40GbE ports, many server users have been making a transition to NIC with 25/50/100GbE ports. FMXXV710-25G-S2 newly released by Fiber Mall is such a 25GbE Ethernet server adapter with dual SFP28 ports.
◮ The Observe Side of Fiber Mall FMXXV710-25G-S2 NIC
XXV710 in FMXXV710-25G-S2 Network Interface Card indicates that it adopts Intel Ethernet Controller Chip XXV710 and S2 refers to its 2 external interfaces. This 25G NIC card is a Low Profile based on the PCIe Gen3 x8 interface and is compatible with the SFP28 network port. As the data encoding overhead for PCIe has been taken into account, the bandwidth differences between the PCIe Gen3 x8 and dual-port 50Gbps network are minimal. There is an NC-SI connector on the observed side of Fiber Mall FMXXV710-25G-S2, making the NIC able to process the Out-Of-Band signal in IPMI/BMC server.
◮ Schematic Diagram of Fiber Mall FMXXV710-25G-S2 25G NIC
According to the logic diagram of FMXXV710-25G-S2, this newly launched 25G Ethernet adapter applies the typical Intel XL710 series network controller in the current market. In April 2019, Intel unveiled the Roadmap of Ethernet controller chip, and its new generation 800 series network controller dubbed as “Columbiaville” will be applied to 100GbE network interface cards. As the V1.0 version standardized by OCP NIC 3.0 Has been officially issued, chip “Columbiaville”, if it is rolled out as scheduled, will be widely used in practice.
◮ Roadmap of Intel Ethernet Controller Chip
There is no large chip on the reserve side of the FMXXV710-25G-S2 NIC card, which is designed with some surface-mount technology(SMT) resistors and capacitors in a concise way instead. The advantage of such a design is that only one side of the air duct is needed for heat dissipation, and the other air volume in the chassis can be used for hotter plug-in cards such as GPU.
◮ The Reserve Side of Fiber Mall FMXXV710-25G-S2 Server NIC
The SFP28 port and the QSFP28 port cooperate to form a one-to-four passive cable to realize the interconnection between servers and the switches. This working principle is consistent with the relation between QSFP+ and SFP+.
FMXXV710-25G-S2 dual-channel fiber network card is driven by Intel i40e, which has been included in the various newly released Linux versions. This indicates that as long as the FMXXV710-25G-S2 network card is inserted into the server, the system can automatically identify the network card, and users are able to plug it in to operate freely.
Before the network card driver updates, the server has boasted most of the network functions.
Fiber Mall’s 25G dual-channel commercial fiber network card may not the most advanced in technology, it fulfills the demand of many applications with its 25GbE dual-port network capabilities before the OCP NIC 3.0 network card is officially launched on the market. With the launch and population of Intel 800 Series Columbiaville NIC and controller chips as well as the OCP NIC 3.0, server network bandwidth is evolving into 100GbE. Thus, the update on network devices will be undergoing and the cyclical process will be seen again in the ICT world.